Left-handed pitcher Chuck Finley and outfielder Brian Downing were inducted into the Angels’ Hall of Fame in a ceremony Thursday night at Angel Stadium before the team’s game with the Oakland Athletics.
Both the game and ceremony had been postponed from April 9, when they were canceled after the death early that morning of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two friends in a traffic accident.
Finley, who played for the Angels from 1986 to 1999, holds the club record for wins (165), innings pitched (2,675) and starts (379), and is second to Nolan Ryan in strikeouts with 2,151.
Downing, known as “the Incredible Hulk” during his career, played for the Angels from 1978 to 1990 and still ranks among the club’s top three in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, home runs and runs batted in.
“I just truly appreciate everybody that supported me all those years and the great support our team had,” Downing told the crowd.
Finley, in turn, thanked Angels fans for “a wonderful ride here” and said “God bless Nick Adenhart, we miss you and we love you.”
Finley and Downing are “two guys that have meant as much to this franchise as anybody that’s put on this uniform, and to honor them in the Hall of Fame, it’s special to all of us,” said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia.
The Angels already had inducted six others -- players Ryan, Rod Carew, Bobby Grich, Don Baylor, Jim Fregosi and the late coach Jimmie Reese -- but had not added anyone since Reese in 1995.
Carew, Grich and Fregosi were on hand for the latest induction, with Finley and Downing each throwing a ceremonial first pitch to Fregosi and Grich, respectively.
Angels pitcher John Lackey said Finley and Downing deserved to be included.
The ceremony “obviously got delayed because of the [Adenhart] tragedy, but it’s definitely cool,” Lackey said. “They did a lot of things for this organization. They need to be celebrated.
“I got to know Fin a little bit,” Lackey said, adding with a smile that “he’s probably even a better dude than he was a player, so I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Lackey, meanwhile, is one win away from 100 victories.
“There are only a handful of guys who have done that in this uniform, so it’s kind of cool to be in a class with some of those guys,” Lackey said. “But in another way, I’ve got a long way to go.”
The 6-foot-6 native of Abilene, Texas, is fifth on the Angels’ all-time win list for pitchers. After Finley and Ryan (with 138 wins) are Mike Witt (109) and Frank Tanana (102).
Center fielder Torii Hunter began Thursday’s game having gone 243 consecutive games without an error, the longest active streak among major league outfielders.
And how does Hunter, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, account for the streak? “It’s 98% skill, 2% dumb luck,” he said with a laugh, and then his clubhouse neighbor, teammate Howie Kendrick, joined in the fun.
“He gets a lot of help from the scorekeepers, too,” Kendrick joked. Hunter laughed even harder. “Yeah, be friendly to the scorekeepers,” he said.
Then Kendrick said bringing up the streak meant “it’s going to jinx you, you know.” To which Hunter replied: “It can’t jinx me, I don’t believe in that.”